Thursday, October 5, 2017


Today was all about the essentials:  cleaning the bedroom, scouring toilets, repairing a broken shower-head, washing floors and buying groceries. I have long favored home-making tasks as my way of keeping grounded in reality. As an intellectual, I spend a lot of time in books, words and ideas. Reading voraciously - and pondering these notions in my heart -  has been a blessing; I wouldn't give it up for the world. And yet, living in the realm of ideas can lead to a lofty albeit ugly misanthropy. "I love humanity," we proclaim in our hearts, "it's just people I can't stand." Been there, done that too many times to keep on keeping on, yes? That's one of the reasons why I need to take a full day out of the buysness and give it over to housework. It gives me time to get real.

I recently came upon the writing of Joy Cowley on the blog site: Sacraparental (check it out @ This psalm isn't exactly my experience, but it comes close:

God of washing, God of unmade beds,
God of dented saucepans and worn-out brooms,
your presence in the most ordinary things
often takes me by surprise.

I listen to the morning news
and think of your presence
at a United Nations peace conference,
at the launching of a space probe,
or in the development of a vaccine,
or the discovery of a new planet.
Then I look down and see you
winking in bubbles of detergent.

God of washing,
God of stains and missing buttons,
wherever else you may be,
you are right here with me
defrosting and cleaning the freezer,
picking up bits of plastic toys
from the living room floor,
and each time you nudge my heart
with the warmth of your presence
recognition leaps like a song.

I know it! Oh, I know it!

God of washing,
God of vacuum cleaner bags,
God of sparrows, lilies and mustard seeds,
My house is your tabernacle.

Another blogger at Inward/Outward ( the-sacrament-of-work/) writes:

A spirituality of work is based on a heightened sense of sacramentality, of the idea that everything that is, is holy and that our hands consecrate it to the service of God. When we grow radishes in a small container in a city apartment, we participate in creation. We sustain the globe. When we sweep the street in front of a house in the dirtiest city in the country, we bring new order to the universe. We tidy the Garden of Eden. We make God’s world new again. When we repair what has been broken or paint what is old or give away what we have earned that is above and beyond our own sustenance, we stoop down and scoop up the earth and breathe into it new life again, as God did one morning in time only to watch it unfold and unfold and unfold through the ages.

I am currently working on another Jean Vanier essay - a synthesis of his tender and practical spirituality. Simultaneously I am trying to make a deeper connection with L'Arche Ottawa as I reawaken my commitment to music as peace-making. Let's just say that cleaning up dog hair and clutter in the bedroom, and getting the shower to work again, restored my sense that small blessings abound.
Incrementally, and never all at once, balance is beginning to return. Another poem, by David Henson, entitled, "Sacrament," gets close, too.

After Jesus climbed up
out of Death
the first thing he did
was the laundry.
He creased the shroud
that covered his face,
just so,
and placed it back
where it belonged.
He could have left it in
a messy pile
in a hurry
to file his taxes on time
or make that lunch date
to outrun death again
with a long list of errands.
But he took the time
in the tomb
to fold the laundry
like he had eternity
on his side.
Maybe it was just that
he dearly loved the marvel of
the hands, earth, and magic
that made it,
the first thing he touched
when the wind blew back
into his beaten-up lungs.

One thing is for sure:
No one ever thinks
of the laundry
as resurrection.
But both

Now it is time for a stoli and cranberry as I watch PBS before dinner.

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